Who are next Boston athletes to have number retired?
Boston Bruins legend Rick Middleton's No. 16 will be raised to the rafters Thursday night at TD Garden before the Black and Gold take on the New York Islanders.
Middleton is the first Bruin to have his number retired since Cam Neely's No. 8 in 2004. He's also the first Boston athlete to have his number raised to the rafters at the Garden since February when Paul Pierce's No. 34 for the Boston Celtics was honored.
With Middleton's number off the table, it got us thinking of the next wave of Boston athletes who could have their number retired someday. Let's take a look at some of the best candidates for the Bruins, Red Sox, Patriots and Celtics.
Note: All accomplishments in the following slides are from Boston seasons only
Photo via Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports Images
Boston Bruins: Patrice Bergeron, 37
Patrice Bergeron is as close to a lock as you'll find. He's a very likely Hall of Famer as one of the best two-way forwards in NHL history. His playoff résumé is phenomenal, and he's climbing the leaderboards to many Bruins records. If he stays with the Bruins through the end of his current contract, he'll have spent at least 18 years with the franchise. I would argue Bergeron is among the top five Bruins to ever play.
--Stanley Cup (2011)
--Olympic gold medal (2010, 2014)
--Frank J. Selke Trophy (4x)
Photo via James Guillory/USA TODAY Sports Images
Boston Bruins: Zdeno Chara, 33
Zdeno Chara has been a top-five defenseman in the NHL for the majority of his time in Boston, and even in his later years, he's still a legitimate top-pairing blueliner. Boston's captain plays the most minutes, goes up against the opponents' top forwards, defends as well as anyone, generates offense and provides exceptional leadership. The fact that he's won just one Norris Trophy is a complete joke.
--Stanley Cup (2011)
--Mark Messier Leadership Award (2011)
--James Norris Trophy (2009)
Photo via Ron Chenoy/USA TODAY Sports Images
Boston Bruins: Brad Marchand, 63
Brad Marchand still has a ways to go before he cements himself as a player whose number should be retired, but he's on the right track. He played a huge role in the Bruins winning the Stanley Cup in 2011. He scored 11 goals in the 2011 playoffs (tying a then-rookie record), including five in the Cup Final against the Vancouver Canucks. His two goals in Game 7 helped secure the championship.
Marchand has been a point-per-game scorer or better over the last two seasons, and he's tallied 23 points in 24 games this season. If he continues to score at or near this rate, he could find himself in the top 10 of many different categories in the franchise record books.
--Stanley Cup (2011)
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Boston Bruins: David Pastrnak, 88
David Pastrnak has a long, long way to go before his number could be retired. Still, early indications are he's going to be a phenomenal player. He's already one of the elite forwards in the NHL, and he has a realistic chance of being the team's first 50-goal scorer since Cam Neely in 1994. The Czech forward already has scored 19 goals through 24 games. Pastrnak is one of the most skilled offensive players the B's have had in a very long time.
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Boston Red Sox: Mookie Betts, 50
Mookie Betts is the most likely among current Red Sox players to have his number retired. He's racked up a ton of awards for both offense and defense in his four full Major League seasons, and he shows no signs of slowing down. If Betts re-signs with the Red Sox and spends most of his career in Boston, it's hard to imagine him not having a very strong case for this honor.
--World Series (2018)
--AL MVP (2018)
--AL Batting Title (2018)
--AL Gold Glove (3x)
--AL Silver Slugger (2x)
--AL All-Star (3x)
Photo via Gary A. Vasquez/USA TODAY Sports Images
Boston Red Sox: Manny Ramirez, 24
Not many players live up to an eight-year, $160 million contract, but Manny Ramirez was worth every penny of that deal as one of the best right-handed hitters baseball has ever seen. From 2001 through 2007, his per 162-game averages were a .313 batting average, 42 home runs, 132 RBI and a .412 on-base percentage. Ramirez also was a great postseason performer. He batted .300 or better in seven of his nine playoff series with Boston, and his highlight-reel of clutch hits is a long one. Ramirez also won World Series MVP in 2004. Off-the-field issues might prevent Ramirez from having his number retired in Boston and/or making the Hall of Fame, but purely from a stats perspective he deserves strong consideration.
--World Series (2004, 2007)
--World Series MVP (2004)
--AL All-Star (7x)
--AL Silver Slugger (6x)
--AL Batting Title (2002)
AP Photo/Julie Jacobson
Boston Red Sox: Roger Clemens, 21
Roger Clemens is one of the best pitchers of all-time and has inched closer and closer to Hall of Fame induction in recent years. The hard-throwing righty was a dominant pitcher for the Red Sox from 1984 through 1996. He went 192-111 with a 3.13 ERA, 2,590 strikeouts and 38 complete games in his Red Sox career. Clemens also is the only Red Sox pitcher ever to win an AL MVP.
--AL MVP (1986)
--AL Cy Young (3x)
--AL All-Star (5x)
AP Photo/Charles Krupa
Boston Red Sox: Dustin Pedroia, 15
Dustin Pedroia was well on his way toward number retirement and the Hall of Fame until injuries recently derailed his career. He won a World Series, Rookie of the Year, MVP and Gold Glove all in the first two seasons of his career. If Pedroia is able to stay healthy and puts up decent numbers to close his career, then he probably has his number retired. But right now, his case isn't as strong as some other players.
--World Series (2007, 2013, 2018)
--AL MVP (2007)
--AL Gold Glove (4x)
--AL All-Star (4x)
--AL Rookie of the Year (2007)
--AL Silver Slugger (2008)
Photo via Brian Fluharty/USA TODAY Sports Images
Boston Celtics: Danny Ainge, 44
Danny Ainge's playing career, despite winning two championships with the Celtics and scoring more points in Boston than Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen, wasn't good enough to merit his No. 44 being retired, but when you add his playing days with his accomplishments as president of basketball operations, a compelling case can be made for this honor. Ainge built the 2008 championship Celtics roster with a series of shrewd moves, and he has the current iteration of the C's set up to win more. If the Celtics win one or two additional titles with the players Ainge has brought in, he would be worthy of having his No. 44 retired as a lifetime contributor to the Celtics tradition.
--NBA champion (1984, 1986, 2008 as an executive)
Photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images
Boston Celtics: Kevin Garnett, 5
Kevin Garnett completely changed the culture of the Celtics when he arrived in 2007, and he immediately was a dominant force at both ends of the floor during Boston's 2007-08 title run. Garnett only played six seasons in Boston, but he helped the C's get to two NBA Finals, three Eastern Conference Finals and averaged 15.7 points and 8.3 rebounds per game despite playing alongside multiple All-Stars and being toward the end of his career. Paul Pierce was the best player most millennial Celtics fans have ever seen, but KG might be the most important.
--NBA champion (2008)
--Defensive Player of the Year (2008)
--All-NBA First Team (2008)
--All-Defense First Team (3x)
AP Images/Winslow Townson
Boston Celtics: Kyrie Irving, 11
Kyrie Irving is in his second season with the Celtics, and if he re-signs on a five-year max contract, he could be in Boston at least seven seasons. If the Celtics win one or more championships during that run, and Irving continues to play at an All-Star level, his number probably will be retired. But we still are a long way from that scenario coming into play.
If Irving's latest Nike commercial is any indication, he wants to be the last Celtic ever to wear No. 11.
Photo via Shane Roper/USA TODAY Sports Images
Boston Celtics: Jayson Tatum, 0
Jayson Tatum is one of the best young talents in the NBA, and as a rookie he played a leading role in the Celtics coming up just a game short of reaching the 2018 NBA Finals. Tatum has a long way to go, obviously, before his No. 0 would ever be retired, but he has the best chance of any young Celtics player. He's the only player on the roster, aside from Irving, who could be a top 10 NBA player at some point in the future.
Photo via David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports Images
New England Patriots: Tom Brady, 12
Tom Brady's résumé speaks for itself. He's the best quarterback and player in NFL history. On the Mount Rushmore of the greatest athletes in Boston sports, Brady is the first or second choice. Nothing more needs to be said.
--Super Bowl titles (5x)
--Super Bowl MVP (4x)
--AFC titles (8x)
--AP NFL MVP (3x)
Photo via Eric Seals/USA TODAY Sports Images
New England Patriots: The best of the Pats dynasty
It's hard to retire numbers in the NFL because 53 players are always on the roster and different position groups need certain numbers. You don't want to run out of numbers. The Patriots cannot retire everyone's number from their Super Bowl dynasty who deserves it, so putting them in the Patriots Hall of Fame or creating a ring-of-honor-like memorial to them makes sense.
Here are the players worthy (or likely soon will be worthy) of consideration who aren't already in the team's HOF:
--Richard Seymour, DE
--Lawyer Milloy, S
--Mike Vrabel, LB
--Adam Vinatieri, K
--Deion Branch, WR
--Logan Mankins, OG
--Rodney Harrison, S
--Vince Wilfork, DT
--Rob Gronkowski, TE
--Dont'a Hightower, LB
--Devin McCourty, DB
--James White, RB
--Julian Edelman, WR
--Bill Belichick, coach
--Robert Kraft, owner
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